Current Adelaide time:
          

The true cost of Unified Communications: Tales of the Unexpected

Ben Mendoza, CEO of MDSL

The true cost of Unified Communications: Tales of the Unexpected

By Ben Mendoza, CEO, MDSL

In the past, whenever you wanted to make a telephone call to someone, you really needed one key piece of information. That was, of course, the telephone number to dial.

In the future, that won’t be necessary. This is possibly one of the great, new conveniences for users of Unified Communications (UC) ‑ a real change to an age old paradigm.

‘Unified Communications’ is actually a very broad term and applies to the integration of many types of modern communications services, but in this short article I will focus on how UC has been applied in a real-life corporate Internet Protocol (IP) telephone system for voice calls and will reveal how a seemingly improved environment can lead to some unexpected and costly side effects.
 
Almost everyone is familiar with the concept of IP telephony (often referred to as Voice over Internet Protocol or VoIP). Companies such as Skype made VoIP a household name. It stands to reason that making almost ‘free’ calls over the internet would be very attractive to large multi-national corporations and so it is no surprise that today the majority of have introduced Enterprise VoIP systems into their organisations.

For the purpose of reading this article think of UC as an application with a nice, friendly user interface that sits on top of a VoiP network. It appears as a window on your PC, Laptop, iPad, mobile phone etc. UC often also incorporates ‘instant messaging’. Here you would see a list of names of work colleagues and friends who you wish to exchange messages with, and by simply clicking on their names you can establish a sort of instant textual conversation with them. There is often some sort of indication of whether they are available and able to take part in the conversation. This is known as their ‘presence state’. They may be ‘away from their desk’ and so on.

So let’s now add the idea of being able to establish a voice connection to the names on this same list. Simple really, just click on the name of the person you want to speak with, and their phone rings. So far, not much different to the directory in your mobile phone.

And it can be as simple as that, but most people have more than one phone. These will be known in UC terms as ‘end points’. I may have a phone on my desk, a mobile device, a phone at home and a Skype type phone as part of my laptop. So what happens when you click on my name in the list?

This will depend on how the UC system has been configured, and my ‘presence state’, but it can be configured so that all my ‘end points’ ring. This actually makes a lot of sense. Firstly, if you do not know where I may be, and secondly, if like me, you are hopeless at remembering all your different numbers! You can simply click and I can simply answer my phone wherever I am and we are connected. Sounds great doesn’t it?

The answer is not always. Well not always great from a financial point of view, as many companies are discovering.

The following scenario is based on real life events. Fictional names are used of course. The ABC Alphabet Soup company has offices in New York, London, Paris and Tokyo and has installed a private VoIP network for all voice services between them. They used a number of leading suppliers to build their environment including Microsoft OCS, Cisco and Avaya. The network includes a number of ‘mediation gateways’, at least one at each major site. These devices act as bridges between the internal private network and the external or Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN).

One afternoon Janet in New York wishes to call John in London. From her PC Janet clicks on John’s name in the company directory and shortly after hears ringing tone – 30 seconds later John is on the line and, even though John sounds sleepy, they have a nice chat.

John has been visiting a client in Dubai and he has answered this call on his mobile phone at 12.30am

A few weeks later the Paris office receives an invoice for a call made very late one evening to a mobile device in Dubai. There is no one in the Paris office that knows anything about this call or recognises the number (we never use numbers). The local telecoms manager wants to know if this is an error or at least, who should be charged for it. Now multiply this problem 1,000 times and spread it across all the offices. Here we are seeing an unexpected side effect of UC. Our call was answered on a mobile phone that was nowhere near our private VoIP network.

Why has this happened in the Paris office? It just so happens that this was the mediation server chosen by the network to make the ‘off net’ call to John’s mobile, and so, this is where the bill is eventually sent.

Janet’s call was made on a Tuesday. It was already Wednesday for John. What number did Janet dial? Actually she can’t know the answer. So how do you attempt to solve this problem?

At MDSL we actually won an award for solving this problem. Moreover by trying to solve this problem we unearthed a few other issues that we were not expecting. 
 
At our client, there was a central telecom team who were responsible for the deployment of telecoms systems and services to all members of the corporate group. They did a great job in selecting and deploying the technical solutions, but were also responsible for recharging each part of the group for the services consumed. Imagine their problem, when a vast number of expensive calls could not be re-charged correctly. The problem was costing them a lot of time, a lot of money and a serious loss of face.

Re-charging for off-net calls is becoming more of an issue as UC is introduced by more and more large firms. Make sure you have a Telecoms Expense Management system capable of solving the re-charge problem. Or what starts off with lots of smiles from happy, connected users, can end up with inaccuracies, blame and frustration when it comes to paying the bills.


Ben Mendoza founded MDSL in 1995 with a vision to provide financial trading organisations with the tools to drastically improve the management of their market data services costs down to an individual user level. MDSL’s solution quickly became the de facto standard and today the company remains the world leader in market data cost management with the MDM software system.
Ben's technology career began in 1974 and has included telecommunications engineering with British Telecom, applied electronics design with Marconi Space and Defence Systems, data network design with Timeplex Ltd, and North Sea oil platform systems implementations with Marathon Oil UK Ltd.
Ben founded his first company in 1984. Digital Networks International Limited (DNI) was an independent IT consultancy firm providing network design and implementation services to customers such as Lehman Brothers, BAII and The Target Group. In 1987 Ben turned his hand to software, creating a Help Desk system called HDE. HDE customers included British Telecom, BP Oil, Barclays Bank, Robert Fleming & Co. and Levi Strauss & Co.

Reports I have written:

Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing

 

 

Have you subscribed to my weekly newsletter yet?

As a subscriber you get kept up-to-date on when new articles are added.

Twitter Mastery for Business - subscribe and it's yours for free!Subscribe now! and receive a free version of my $79 report, Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business.

It's the first in a series of reports I'm writing on how to master the various key elements of social media.

Each report is an-depth, step-by-step process that explains in clear, plain English how to master a particular social media tool and help your business communicate better for better business results.

Each report is easy to read, easy to implement and easy on the pocket -- just $79 per copy.

But as a new subscriber to my blog and newsletter, I'm giving you a copy of the free version of Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business report as a way of saying "thank you" for joining my community.

Please subscribe, then check for the email you will receive from me shortly after, because in the email will be details of how to download the report [1.2mb pdf]

Subscribe now!

Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


If you would like to use any of the articles on this site that I have personally written (they will either have 'By Lee Hopkins' on them, or nothing at all) please feel free to do so as long as you include the following 'resource box' text and a link back to www.LeeHopkins.com:

"Lee Hopkins the author of over 130 articles on business communication, and is recognised world-wide as one of Australia's leading experts in online business communication, including Social Media or Web2.0 as it's also known.

To connect with him, please email him at Lee at LeeHopkins.com

Visit his site at www.LeeHopkins.com to find many more articles on business communication. He also blogs at www.LeeHopkins.net. Whilst there, why not pick up a complimentary copy of his 'Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business', which explains all about this latest seismic change to the business communication landscape!"

EzineArticles.com Platinum AuthorCreative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Finally, if this site or any of the articles have been of any help to you, perhaps you'd like to say 'thank you' by throwing a few pennies my way. If so, please click on the button below and donate whatever you feel is appropriate. The payment is handled by PayPal and is extremely secure. Thanks.

 

 

 

Follow me on TwitterFollow me on FacebookFollow me on LinkedInFollow me on YouTubeFollow me on Google+

Subscribe

Subscribe to my newsletter now and be the envy of world presidents

Subscribe to my weekly business communication newsletter and receive a FREE version of my highly-regarded report, 'Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business' (that sells for $79)
Find out more...

 

Related material :

Twitter

Better Business Writing course

A 12-step plan to take you from Twitter newbie to Twitter supremo and grow your business in the process.

More details

 

Better Business Writing

Better Business Writing course

You’ve probably always wanted to improve your writing skills in your workplace, but perhaps there wasn't a training course around to help you.

Well, now there is.

More details

Turn Guesstimates into Estimates & close more sales!

Award-winning ProposalKit gives your clients the detailed price quote and proposal they need so YOU close more sales (and boost your bottom line!) Finally you can quote with accuracy, increasing your profitability and professionalism. ProposalKit is easy, customizable, proven, and downloadable now! http://www.proposalkit.com

Social Media White Paper
(3rd Edition)

Social Media book for free

Trevor Cook and I wrote a booklet to help our clients and friends come to grips with this new online phenomenon called 'Social Media' or 'Web2.0'. Now in its third edition, it is still being widely cited and is receiving lots of favourable comments.

Download your free copy now (pdf)

Find out more about it (opens new window)

Vodburner rocks!
Vodburner is my tool of choice for recording skype video calls, either for later podcasting or simply for my own record. Now that video is becoming more and more important, I can't imagine online life without it.
More about Vodburner...

What you say about Lee Hopkins:
 

"One of the best days I've spent with a man! "


"As a speaker, Lee and his alter ego in the guise of avatar 'Lee Laperriere' played a key role in making our virtual event in Second Life a success. Lee was well-researched, engaging and enthusiastic about the possibilities that virtual collaboration brings and his presentation showed that he had really thought about the needs of our audience"


"Wow - what a presentation, it went so well, thank you very much! Fantastic job! "


"Lindy and Lee, you were both brilliant and I'm very thankful and pleased for your efforts, it was excellent. Thank you. "


"One of Australia's leading public relations practitioners in the so-called new media"


"While I only had the pleasure of actually meeting Lee face-to-face several months ago, I have been aware of him in conference programs and through feedback from one of my team members for a while. Lee has an amazing and unique skill for managing the new media to support business outcomes"


"Oz's best social network strategist"


"As for Local Royalty, you really are a Superstar among the bloggers and blogosphere!"


"Lee Hopkins, one of Australia's most respected social media experts"


"Lee was very entertaining and knowledgeable. He demystified social media for me and he made me feel it IS possible."


"His enthusiasm is infectious - exciting stuff!"


"Excellent. A really fascinating insight from an engaging speaker."


"A very difficult topic but it was explained in a fantastically simple way."


"The Walkleys relies on the good will of Australia’s talented communicators to make events like these happen and I can’t thank you enough for taking time out from your heavy schedule to make the convention such a memorable event."


"The workshop was very useful in that it enabled us to directly relate what we learnt in the seminar to our business. Lee was very easy to relate to and he presented all the information in a way that was simple to understand."


"Informative and engaging - gave good overview of new on-line technologies and how they can be applied to businesses. Particularly valued the opportunity to have a separate session to look at the specific needs and potential uses for my own business."


"Great to talk to someone who is expert in their field and passionate."


"The ability to interact one on one with Lee, as well as seeing new technologies and how they can be easily implemented into current business processes [was great]"


"Great. Lee was very engaging and presented info in easy to understand language and examples. Use of music, video, PowerPoint etc keep contents fun and educational. Great stuff!"


“Great! Even I could understand and appreciate the content. Excellent examples, wonderful presentation. I’m going back to share with my team. Thank you. "


“Lee was a great facilitator and his energy and passion for social media was evident."

“Excellent, enthusiastic presenter who is right into what he is talking about. Walking the talk. Just the right amount of info about the different topics. Not too geeky. Strong emphasis on how the tools can assist effective business communication. Relaxed friendly atmosphere. The workshop opened lots of doors, stimulating. I’m strongly encouraged to try things out. Many thanks.”


“Lee was great – knowledgeable, enthusiastic, generous in sharing his expertise. I liked the demonstrations."


"Great Workshop... helped me crystalise my thoughts on social media and now I feel ready to develop the strategy and make use of this great new medium"


Would you like me to run a workshop in-house for YOUR company?

Contact me to discuss how we can bring your company into this new and exciting communication universe.

View many of the presentations I have given over at Slideshare

View leehopkins's profile on slideshare

Why does employee communication matter?

Why does employee communication matter?

Download a presentation I gave to a group of PR students on slideshare

For your consideration:

 

Your special audio report on VOIP is here!

Free VOIP report

 

 

 

 


 
Your special audio report on website design is here!

Free Website design report

 

 

 



"I communicate therefore I am"
CommsCafe mug
Available in medium and large mug sizes. You KNOW you want one!

 

 

CommsCafe mug

Available in men's and women's fittings. You KNOW you want one!


Writing for a web audience

Netwriting Masters CourseWant to write more powerfully for a web audience?...
Right-click on this image and download the pdf file to your computer's hard drive.
"The definitive guide to writing for the web"
says Lee